By Francis Ewherido
Nigerian women have come a long way since the days when parents would not send the girl-child to school. Today, there are many educated women, even though certain parts of the country are still miles behind in girl-child education.
Women are not only educated, many have risen very high in their work places and businesses, earning big incomes, which sometimes outstrip what their husbands earn. This has consequently led to debates about what happens when the wife earns more. In many homes in Nigeria today, the wives earn more and in some cases they are even the breadwinners.
This has led to negative outcomes. Some husbands have become insecure, unnecessarily aggressive and even abusive. Also, some wives have become arrogant, irresponsible and very domineering. Many couples who did not manage this situation well have either divorced or separated.
I am not surprised that some of these women earn more. When they got married they were much younger, probably just completing their university education, while the husbands were already established.
Over the years, the wives have risen in their companies, earning big salaries, while the husbands’ businesses have run into troubled waters or the men have left their paid employment and started businesses that promised so much and delivered very little. In some cases, the wives simply had better career or business plans.
Personally, I do not have problems with a wife earning more; the husband should just earn enough to take care of his household or at least earn something reasonable. The Bible only instructed men to work and cater for their households. It did not say the men must earn more than their wives.
The wives, on the other hand, are admonished to support their husbands. So if, for instance, the man earns N15m per annum. That is enough to give an average family a good life. If the wife earns N25m and decides to support the husband, it only makes the standard of living higher. It does not mean the man cannot provide enough. There is also no reason why the man should feel diminished or inferior.
Some men are obsessed with earning more than their wives. When you have this mindset, your wife becomes competition not complement. Competition ends up with winners and losers, happy and bitter people. No marriage lasts long that way. God gave us differing abilities, without consideration of gender, so it is inevitable that some wives will continue to earn more than their husbands. Couples have got to learn to see the positive side of the situation.
Where I have issues is when an able-bodied man shirks his responsibilities and the wife becomes a sole provider. I am not referring to husbands who temporarily lost their jobs. I am talking about men, who out of laziness, live off their wives. Such men should take off the toga of “man of the house” and accept whatever comes their way.
If the wives decide to be generous in “victory” and still treat them as the “man of the house” with all the rights and privileges, good luck. But where a wife demands role reversal, the husband should be ready to get the children ready for school, do school runs, keep the house clean, prepare meals, etc. In any case, many modern day couples already share these responsibilities.
The wife should not be out there all day working to cater for the family and then gets back home to prepare food, clean the house, check the children’s books, etc. Meanwhile, the husband has been home all day, probably watching television and sleeping. That is injustice.
Every husband should avoid becoming a houseboy in his own house. There are too many houseboy-husbands these days. That you lost your job does not mean you should surrender and give up on life. When a man falls, he gets up, dusts himself, figures out what made him to fall, learns not to fall that way again and moves on. If one door closes, recreate yourself and move on to other doors.
That is why God imbued us with many gifts and talents from birth. Granted, the economic situation in Nigeria is very unhelpful in men’s efforts to be breadwinners, but there should be no retreat or surrender. Some husbands like the comfort zone provided by their wives too much and make no effort to be economically productive. If you are that type, you should accept any sh*t thrown at you.
Some men are suffering terribly. Why they do not do anything about their situations beats my imagination. There are men who have lost the respect of their wives and children because of loss of economic power over time. There are husbands who have lost the right to sleep with their wives due to loss of economic power. Some do not even know what their wives look like anymore while naked.
It is possible that some of the money being used to fend for the family comes from other men who have taken over the husband’s conjugal rights. But some of these men still stick around probably because of the vow of for-better-for-worse, while others are scared of the unknown; some are scared of suffering the fate of the deposed lion king: it loses its family and consequently source of livelihood, becomes lonely, wonders around and ultimately dies.
Important as money is to life and marriage, couples have got to have balanced value orientation and not let their lives revolve round money only. Take, for instance, an accomplished university professor who is married to a bank executive. The professor is probably going to earn less than his banker wife.
But does that make the him unsuccessful? Shouldn’t his academic accomplishments and personal fulfillment count? Any wife who disrespects such a husband on account of money should go to hell (literally)! Our value orientation is currently too tilted towards financial accomplishments and it has overflowed into all aspects of our life. It is partly responsible for the upsurge in corruption and crime.
I encourage wives to work harder to build their homes and marriages rather than getting swollen-headed because they earn more than their husbands. For the husbands, surely you are not going to hug a transformer because your wife earns more. Just strive to earn enough to give your family a good life.
This is belated, but still important to me. March 8, 2017, was International Women’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate women’s achievements and call for gender equality. One newspaper was awash with faces and short biographies of women bestriding various areas of human endeavour.
I felt good, especially with the inclusion of women in my insurance profession. But I partly disagree with the gender equality aspect of the Women’s Day. God created man and woman specially, but differently, so what I think we should propagate is giving to Paul what is Paul’s and to Paulette what is Paulette’s, so that both Paul and Paulette can develop their God-given talents and abilities to the full.